Powder-keg start to #AusOpenGC
The world’s biggest bowls festival opened to a powder-keg start across 12 Gold Coast club today, and it was the rising stars of the sport that shone the brightest in the blue-ribbon men’s singles discipline.
Members of the sport’s National Training Centre squads, a state-based high performance tier for emerging talent, featured prominently in the opening morning of the $225,000 Australian Open.
Broadbeach hopeful Sean Ingham was drawn against fellow QLD NTC squad member Eric Copeland in a game that was sure-fire recipe to draw a crowd in the opening round at Tugun.
Ingham who got the edge over Copeland in a close fought encounter, 21-16, and went on to win his final two matches 21-4 and 21-13 to book a berth in the knockout stages of the coveted event.
A match that was predicted to be a close encounter turned out to be a one-sided affair when NTC squad members Des Cann (QLD) and Corey Wedlock (NSW) went head to head in the second round at Broadbeach.
Cann got out to an early 4-0 lead, but once Wedlock hit his straps the Cabramatta ace demonstrated why he is presently ranked in the top three of the sport’s national rankings, running away with a 21-8 victory.
NSW NTC Squad member Ray Pearse has just come off the back of a Australian Jackaroos squad trial, where 16 of Australia’s best bowlers contended for 10 available spots, and lived up to the weight of expectation today during his Australian Open singles campaign.
Pearse opened his account with a 21-2 victory over John Williams; he then registered his second win to six; however it was the final match of the day that proved his toughest.
Pearse’s opponent, Andrew Baldrey had only been bowling for 12 months and wasn’t confident of scoring more than a couple of shots; however Baldrey put up a gallant fight and only went down by eight.
South Australian bowler of the year and Australian Jackaroo hopeful Max Kleinig cut a swath through his section at Musgrave Hill to progress to the knockout stages.
Reigning Bowls Australia Under-18 Male Bowler of the Year Michael Sims started his Australian Open campaign with a confidence-boosting win over Queensland State Triples Champion Neville Jenke 21-7.
The young Tasmanian continued on his winning way throughout day one posting another two convincing victories to progress with ease to the knockout rounds.
There were a number of Australian Jackaroos in action today with Barrie Lester, Aron Sherriff, Mark Casey and Brett Wilkie all surviving the day without a blemish to their name.
The international raiders had a good day at the office with Scotland’s Alex Marshall, England’s Stuart Airey, Canada’s Ryan Bester, and New Zealand’s Gary Lawson, Richard Girvan and Shannon McIlroy all demonstrating their world class abilities here on the Gold Coast to advance to the knockout stages.
A few big scalps were taken on day one; former Australian representative Todd Simmons and South African legend Neil Burkett were both victims to Michael Reid who went through section 34 with a full nine points.
Ben Glasson and father Steve are both facing an up-hill battle to qualify after both finishing second in their sections, along with former Scottish international Graeme Archer who also lost his section today.
While unable to retain an untarnished record this morning, their still remains a possibility that some of these big name players will still feature in the blue-ribbon discipline, with the tantalising reality that 49 lucky losers will progress through to the knockout stages once the men’s singles’ sectional battles have been run by Monday evening,
The winners of all sections today will be transferred into the knockout draw tomorrow morning and available for viewing on the event’s competition management system, but those waiting to see whether they will progress as a next best qualifier will have to wait with their fingers crossed till Monday night at the conclusion of …